No Minister

Posts Tagged ‘Death

More Insanity for your delight

Well you may not be delighted at the first item, especially if you have kids looking for a house in New Zealand.

I’ve removed the name of the real estate company as I see no reason to give them free advertising after they dropped this through our mailbox the other day.

A 71% increase above the CV. Obviously the house and other structures on the site are worth nothing.

This is not a flash area, even by the moderate standards of Glenn Innes in Auckland, yet this is what’s happening even there. They’re also quite open about land banking and development, as if things like the “brightline test” and no longer being able to deduct expenses as a renter just don’t amount to a speed bump.

That’s because these are companies with teams of lawyers and accountants, and there is no limit to how “money” can be shuffled around to avoid the prescriptive revenge of Leftist governments.

Friends of ours, a Russian immigrant family we met twenty years ago when they landed in NZ at the same time we did, lived in this very street until last year and after years of scrimping and penny pinching, did well enough out of this insanity to be able to buy a section not far away and build a new house. Given the racism from their neighbours that they had to put up with for years they were glad to go.

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The second item is something we all try to avoid, getting tangled up in government bureaucracy – and death.

Many years ago I laughed at one of the crazy stories from the book Catch 22. One of the characters, Doc Daneeka, is gaming extra income by getting flight pay via signing up to fly on standard shakedown flights of bombers that have been repaired. A quick flight around the base and it’s all good, but Daneeka doesn’t even want to do that and the pilots let it slide. Then one of these bomber flights – with his name on the roster – crashes into a nearby mountain in full view of the base. “Poor Doc Daneeka” says one man, even as the Doc, standing beside him, is saying, “but I’m right here”. He ends up living in a ripped up tent on the edge of the base, stealing food wherever he can. Even the amoral capitalist genius of Milo Minderbinder and the evil bureaucratic genius of PFC Wintergreen, cannot resurrect him. It gets to the point that people ignore him when he speaks to them. He also just vanishes from the story eventually, his true fate unknown.

Meet the modern French version of the Doc, Jeanne Pouchain, and marvel at real-life insanity.

‘They said I don’t exist. But I am here’ – one woman’s battle to prove she isn’t dead.

The letter informed her that a lawyer in a court case relating to her cleaning business had told the court that she had died, aged 53, in February 2016. Somehow, this unverified claim – there was no official death certificate, how could there be? – was allowed to go unchecked and unchallenged.

The thing that really gets me is that a relatively minor court could let this happen, but somehow higher courts and supposed authorities can’t seem to reverse the process:

Several courts, including the Cour de Cassation, the highest in the French judicial system, have examined the case and conceded there appeared to be “irregularities”, but deemed it was beyond their competence to bring Pouchain back from the dead. So who can? Pouchain’s local MP’s office tells me they have taken up her case. The MP, Valéria Faure-Muntian, told Pouchain she has spoken to the justice minister, Éric Dupond-Moretti, who is a member of the French bar and will keep a close eye on the case.

Aside from frozen bank accounts and not being able to access the French healthcare system, there’s also ordinary things like not having a passport and a driver’s licence, which crimp your lifestyle to say they least, although when I read this bit …

Then [the gendarme] looked on the central database and he said, ‘I wouldn’t drive if I were you, because you don’t exist. You don’t have a licence.’”

Ok. So what happens if they arrest her for that? Or for anything really? How can you charge a dead person with a crime, convict them and send them to jail? Perhaps she should have tried getting the system to fight itself to a resolution.

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The last concerns the hopeless story creation in Hollywood in the last twenty years, with a seemingly endless line of re-boots, sequels and super-hero movies being made – and starting to sag in box-office returns.

Somebody on social media decided to spark some ideas using merely the photos of two actresses.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 11, 2021 at 4:00 pm

A Lost Past – courtesy of a soon-to-be lost past

With the announcement the other day that the Bauer Media Group is simply closing up shop in New Zealand, resulting in the printing shutdown of magazines like The Listener, North & South and many others, I have to wonder if the websites of these magazines will also soon be gone?

I’d note that The Listener kept publishing even through WWII, but the press was more essential back then than it is now.

Skippers Canyon today

To that end I thought I would capture in total the latest story in The Listener by Greg Dixon, rather than just the link, since that might vanish at any moment. The story is about a vast sheep station situated at the end of the infamous Skippers Canyon road in Otago. I’ve been on it twice, but only using tourist “buses” (more like giant 4WD’s). The first time was in 1989 and then again in 2013 with my family and it’s a scary piece of road engineering: one of my kids retreated to and crouched down in the aisle between the seats at the point shown in the photo above.

I’d always assumed it was built for gold miners and had no idea that it had once connected Queenstown to a sheep station. As Dixon points out, while he’d hunted down an old book published in 1965 for his own interests, the story it tells is perfect for this moment in New Zealand history.

Isolation in the back of beyond.

 

“Road not recommended,” read the sign. It wasn’t bloody joking. Beyond its plain, wry warning was a narrow, unrelenting snake of a road, a thing of gravel and grief that wound for 32 long kilometres through Skippers Canyon above Otago’s Upper Shotover River. 

In spring, there would be washouts and landslips. In winter, there was ice and snow and flooding. For months of the year, it could be impassable. And all year around there were dizzying hairpins, steep climbs, slippery turns and precipitous drops. It made drivers tough, and it broke some, too. More than one who’d made it from Queenstown to the end of the Skippers Rd refused to drive back. 

But at its end, on a high country sheep station, between the Richardson and Harris mountain ranges, a young family lived remote from the rest of the world in a solitude that’s hard to imagine in 21st-century New Zealand. It was in this isolated place, at the end of the country’s worst road, that Terri Macnicol and her husband, Archie, made a family and a life of hard yakka leavened by homely pleasures. 

I spent this week reading about them in Beyond the Skippers Road, Terri’s lively, funny, affecting memoir about “working the run” at Mt Aurum Station between 1941 and 1957. It was published by Reed the year before I was born, 1965, and was quickly given two reprints. 

I found a copy a month ago at the Masterton library, in a small, sad sale of books that had apparently outlived both welcome and use. “Five for a dollar,” said its sign. I took Beyond, and its 1966 sequel, Echoes of Skippers Canyon. 

Terri had been born on a farm near the entrance to Otago Harbour in 1912. Going to school meant walking 5km to the pilot station wharf, then, after a trip on the pilot boat across the harbour, another 3km trek to the classroom. 

Terri knew about isolation. But Mt Aurum Station was beyond the back of beyond. When she joined her new husband there in August 1941, they, at first, lived only at the station homestead. It had seven small rooms, and seven outside doors. There was one neighbour, on the other side of a sometimes very shirty river. There was no electricity, the phone was often on the blink, and in winter they lived and slept in the kitchen, close to the black coal range: “Archie blithely told me: ‘Several generations have lived here before us, so I guess we’ll survive,’” Terri writes. 

In their second winter as a couple, with the first of their four children, Joy, still an infant, they moved, by horseback, a further 20km into the station, to “The Branches”. Here home was a two-room hut. Cooking was done on an open fire with a camp oven. If there was sickness or injury, there was trouble. 

This was complete isolation. But at least The Branches, which became their winter home, received six or seven hours of sun a day, instead of the “miserable four” at the homestead. 

I am making life at Skippers sound severe and exposed. But it was a kind of paradise. The Macnicols had such fun, such solidarity, such love in that harsh, beautiful place. And they were equal to their lot. 

“I soon became used to the solitude,” Terri writes of her first winter, when Archie left her to go rabbiting in the mountains for weeks. “My baby kept me busy, and I sewed, knitted, read, and kept the tins full …” 

As I lay on the couch with Beyond the Skippers Road, immersed in this other world, marvelling at the fortitude, resourcefulness and courage of another generation, our world changed. We decided to stay home. It was for the best: Michele has an autoimmune condition. 

“You guys should be fine, you’re naturally isolated,” my sister Justine texted from Auckland. Yes, we’re alone at Lush Places, apart from the cat, the four hens of the apocalypse and the ewes. But we live just a driveway’s length from the rest of the world. We’ll need fortitude, resourcefulness and courage, too, I think, now we’re all together on an uncertain journey, long past a sign reading “Road not recommended”.

The saddest part for me was the part about having found the book:

“at the Masterton library, in a small, sad sale of books that had apparently outlived both welcome and use. “Five for a dollar,” said its sign.”

Perhaps the story will inspire some demand for this book in libraries throughout NZ and others won’t feel they have to throw it out. As Dixon points out, it’s perfect for what we’re living through, though Terri Macnicol would likely wonder what was wrong with us.

Written by Tom Hunter

April 2, 2020 at 9:47 pm

Posted in New Zealand

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Die MSM, Die – The New Zealand edition

And now – The News!

It’s been heading this way for twenty years…

The fate of RNZ and TVNZ may soon be in the hands of Cabinet ministers, with a proposal to disestablish both broadcasters and create an entirely new public media entity.

Another NEW public entity! Be still my beating heart!!

Kim Hill in full warpath mode

No longer will Kim Hill’s worshippers have to pleasure themselves only to her dulcet tones: under this new arrangement they’ll be able to look at her face while they do so.

It was you that enchanted the mortals,
Child of Aphrodite,
You the best of stars
And whiter than milk…

So what’s the proposal then?

The advisory group concluded the status quo was “unsustainable” and “collectively recommended the government agree to disestablish TVNZ and RNZ and to establish a new public media entity”.

There are guidelines for how it would operate, including having a “clearly defined public media mandate and purpose, with the core functions of a globally recognised public media entity”. 

It would provide public media services across a variety of platforms, “some of which may be advertising free”. TVNZ earns revenue from advertising but RNZ is commercial free.

In other words it’s just more of the “mixed funding model’ bullshit that’s already failed. What this means is that private sector outfits like TV3 would continue to try and compete for advertising dollars against a government-backed TV-Radio network. That’s part of the reason TV3 is in the shit now, although all the old broadcasters worldwide are under the same pressures from the likes of Facebook and Google.

Less of this…

If the entity has even part of its model funded by advertising it’s going to act commercially: it has to.

And that means less Panorama (BBC), NOVA or Frontline (the latter two being US PBS) ….

And more of this…

… and more “Trans-Wives of Remuera“.

If you want a picture of where the Left really want this to go, have a wee shufti at dear old Chris Trotter’s achingly nostalgic view of the NZBC and NZ broadcasting in the 1970’s:

To Save Democracy, We Must Make The Media Our Own.

Oh yeah, Chris. Speaking as a Right-Winger I’m sure I’d really feel it was “our” media. Of course Chris knows exactly who he means by “Our”: he means his side of the ideological fence, and he says it without even thinking about it. It’s just an automatic assumption. Witness Chris unloading yet another sad paen to a part of our destroyed Glorious State Owned Past:

The [1970’s], which coincided with the introduction of a second publicly-owned television channel, witnessed an extraordinary flowering of news and current affairs, documentary, drama and music programmes.

For this very reason, the enemies of public ownership spare no effort in casting the 1970s as the decade that taste forgot – notable only for its flared jeans and disco. Obliterated almost completely from New Zealanders’ collective memory is the amazing collection of creative talent which was all-too-briefly assembled in the purpose-built Avalon television studios situated ten miles north of the capital. If this period is recalled at all it is only for the purposes of laughing at the posh pronunciation and absurd hairstyles of the era’s ridiculously clunky (by contemporary standards) broadcasters.

Really? Did Chris ever actually watch that painful succession of “sit coms” turned out over the years. The only funny one I can recall was Gliding On, and that was lifted from a successful play, using some of NZ’s more talented actors. And even it sagged when it tried to get with the times of Rogernomics. Everything else had critics asking why there were no good comedy script-writers in NZ.

More Karyn Hay nostalgia

Now I have to admit that we always got a hell of a laugh out of Karyn Hay turning up stoned on Radio With Pictures. Now that was great TV: glorious punk television.

In Trotter’s world you’d end up with basically one newsroom that would combine that of TVNZ and RNZ, which would dominate the NZ media news industry. TV3 would be even more dead than now.

Admittedly, in terms of reporting, this would be little different to our current situation.

Which is to say – and this is where I love hearing once again from Lefties about how it’s all down to corporate ownership – that the journalists don’t change. The large group of reporters that currently stick it to Right-wing ideas – which occasionally intersect with National Party policy – and mostly cover for the policy failures of Green-Labour, will happily shift to this new structure, where they’ll “report” exactly as they do now.

At best you can hope that occasionally they’ll attack Labour, but only when they fail on some Left-wing idea, such as when John Campbell attacked Helen Clarke in 2002 based on Hager’s anti-GE screed or more recently when #MeToo finally went feral inside Labour.

But aside from those Left deviations it’s all good as far as 95% – possibly more – of our “journalists” are concerned. Oh don’t tell me: Mike Hosking! As if he’s anything more than a reactionary, and he’s pretty much all alone on most issues, as Lefties constantly remind us, which rather proves my point.

You don’t believe me? You’re one of those who goes around screaming about Hoskings and “But Rupert Murdoch“? Well I’ll let Trotter speak a truth:

TV3, by some unanticipated quirk of late-capitalist cultural logic displayed more creativity, innovation and independence than the ideologically straightjacketed TVNZ. For the past 30 years, the privately-owned TV3 network has, heroically and paradoxically, filled the vacuum created by the deliberate destruction of public service broadcasting in 1989.

The Paradoxical John Campbell

Except it’s a truth he clearly does not understand: hence his gobbledygook about “some unanticipated quirk of late-capitalist cultural logic” – whatever the fuck that means – that paradoxically produced TV3’s heroic existence as a corporate-owned entity that pushed Leftist ideas in news and current affairs 24/7.

No really! As hard as it may be to believe, John Campbell,  a journalist who has waxed poetic over Noam Chomsky and John Pilger for decades, really did not take editorial direction from profit-minded owners.

The paradoxical Carol Hirschfeld

Well he did get fired eventually, but again that had nothing to do with his ideological reporting and everything to do with TV3’s general toilet swirl on eyeballs and advertising revenue.

And in any case all these inter-connected loveys have already fallen on their feet into the existing world of TVNZ and RNZ. Even Carol’s hubby, Finlay MacDonald, whose hoarse flatness now fills the afternoons of RNZ.

These are the people – together with Kim Hill and god knows how many more minions of like-mind – who would actually control any such “public media entity” funded by your taxes.

The paradoxical Finlay MacDonald

Chris and company need to look around the world, because there’s a fuck-load of Giant Capitalist Corporations that are stuffed to the gills with Lefty ideas being put into action, starting with the two great predators largely responsible for destroying the MSM as we’ve known it – Facebook and Google.

Sure, they still retain that classic capitalist idea of making huge amounts of money: that core philosophy remains locked in place and God-forbid anyone who disturbs it, but aside from that they’re pushing every Left idea there is.

Having said that, even The Stupid Party in the US are beginning to talk about some Teddy Roosevelt-style Robber Barron busting. The Silicon Valley mega-rich may soon find themselves being disembowelled by both Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren.

And BTW, the guy who owns Amazon, Jeff Bezos, literally the richest man in the world, also owns the Washington Post. Meanwhile, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, effectively owns the New York Times, the paper that’s been pushing the whole narrative about the US being founded on slavery starting in 1619, not to mention a ton of stuff that’s extolling the wonders of trans-genders, the terrors of Global Warming, and yadda, yadda, yadda.

Funny how that works with “Right-Wing” billionaire owners.

I happen to still love the sort of in-depth documentaries produced by the likes of Panorama in Britain and Frontline in the USA. And certainly the comparison of TVNZ’s news and current affairs  to such programmes or the BBC and PBS generally is a source of hideous shame for New Zealand.

But over the years I’ve realised that the slant of those shows only trends in one direction – to the Left – and I have even less confidence that a New Zealand “public media entity” could achieve even those standards of quality or ideological balance: that it would not be captured by the Left as represented by the Lovies shown here. Chris Trotter pretty much lets the cat out of the bag on that:

The truly radical insight of the Kirk Government was that a genuinely independent public broadcasting system, driven by a desire to serve the public good, and insulated from the tutelage of the advertisers’ almighty dollar, would always end up serving the interests of the citizens it empowered – and hence the interests of the political party most dedicated to their welfare

Perhaps we can call the new entity Radio With Pictures – although it won’t be anywhere near as much fun as 1980’s Karyn Hay.

Written by Tom Hunter

November 14, 2019 at 11:50 pm

Alas Poor Meteria, Milt Knew You Well………

………And now she’s gone.   Pffffftttttttttttttttt.   Just like that, despite Milt’s herculean efforts on her behalf.

It would seem the last straw was tonight’s Reid TV3 poll which saw the greens vote slashed by four points to just 8% PV.

Labour have have picked up all those votes as well as a swag from Winston First.

National          44
Labour             31
NZ1                   9
Green                8

Oh well, hopefully that leaves the coast clear for WINZ to bring a prosecution without any political hurdles getting in the way.

Written by adolffinkensen

August 9, 2017 at 6:41 am

Posted in New Zealand

Tagged with